PITTSTON TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – The deadline to file your income taxes is now five weeks away. It’s the same deadline facing one million procrastinating taxpayers at risk of forfeiting old income tax refund money they never claimed. Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller explains.

“They may have refunds that are lost.” Mark Mihalka of Liberty Tax Service is concerned for roughly one million American taxpayers on the verge of missing out on what amounts to a collective windfall. “Pennsylvania, yeah, they’re saying $42 million could be forfeited.”

That’s just part of what the IRS says is $1.1 billion nationally unclaimed by taxpayers who never filed a 2014 tax return yet were entitled to a refund. But that money will, instead, be claimed by the U.S. Treasury unless you get cracking. “That’s why when people come in with multiple year returns we want to get the ’14 done first because that is of urgency.”

Mr. Mihalka says some wager earners knew they didn’t owe for the 2014 tax year and probably didn’t want to go through the hassle of filing their taxes. He urges taxpayers to not be afraid to claim what’s rightfully theirs. “If you’re due a refund, the IRS is not going to penalize you.”

Not only will the government not penalize you if you are owed money, but also you’re going to get interest on that money. Of course, you know how the IRS works. It raises another taxing issue. “You will also receive when you’re filing your 2018 return a 1099 INT from the government which you will have to pay interest that you earned from the government. You never have to pay taxes on the refund that you earned,” said Mr. Mihalka.

The IRS says the median unclaimed refund amount is nearly $850. Mr. Mihalka says that refund is better in your pocket than just letting it go to waste. “If you’re entitled to money, you could get it even if you don’t want it. Donate it to a charity or a good cause.”

Don’t worry if you don’t have your W-2’s that prove the income you earned in 2014. You can get them right away free of charge.